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Minnesota Casinos & Online Gambling Information

Minnesota

In some ways, Minnesota’s gaming industry is relatively limited, but in others, it is absolutely essential to the state. While there isn’t much in the way of a commercial casino presence, Native American tribes have built a number of resorts, and several other forms of state-sponsored gambling are widely available. Some of these efforts have been less successful than lawmakers have hoped, however, and Internet gaming has yet to catch on with the state government.

Modern Era Begins in 1980s

Gambling has had at least some presence in Minnesota since the end of World War II. Some forms of charitable gaming have been available to nonprofit organizations – in particular, religious, veterans, and fraternal groups – since 1945. The allowable activities were greatly expanded in 1985, and remain popular to this day. While these groups are required to get licenses in order to offer gambling, they can then host a variety of products, ranging from bingo to raffles and pull tabs.

The early 1980s would see the introduction of parimutuel betting to the state. In 1982, legislator proposed a constitutional amendment to allow horse racing, and voters approved that proposal the very next year. By 1985, Canterbury Park had opened in Shakopee, and continues to offer about 70 days of racing each year. A second track, Running Aces, was opened in Columbus in 2008.

As in many states, the late 1980s saw a rise of interest in Native American gaming. After the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, there was a push by several tribes to assert their right to build casinos on their reservations, and the state has since entered into many compacts with tribal groups in order to facilitate the development of such resorts. Today, 18 different Indian casinos are operating in the state.

Compared with many places in the United States, a state lottery was actually a rather late arrival here. The North Star State wouldn’t approve their lottery until 1989, when the legislature voted to create an agency to oversee drawings. Today, the state not only hosts their own games, but also participates in Powerball and Mega Millions, the two gargantuan jackpot games that are available throughout most of the country.

The most recent change to Minnesota’s gaming industry took place in 2012, when the state authorized bars and restaurants to offer electronic versions of pull tab games. The idea behind the machines was to help fund a new stadium for the state’s NFL team, the Vikings. Originally, it was hoped that these games would contribute about $350 million to the stadium, and also help charitable organizations at the same time, as they would also retain the right to offer the electronic options.

Unfortunately for officials, the games never brought in anything close to the revenues that had been projected. Whether it was a general lack of understanding about the games, issues with the manufacturer providing them, or a distaste for the idea that the machines were providing public financing for a football stadium, the pull tabs never took off like it was hoped. While some venues have been successful with the games, and other taxes have been levied to help pay for the stadium, the experiment has largely been seen as a flop overall.

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iGaming Not on the Horizon

Minnesota has thus far shown little interest in the regulation of online casinos. Not long ago, the state seemed rather hostile to the idea: in 2009, a government agency ordered Internet service providers to blacklist about 200 gambling sites, including several major poker rooms. That led to lawsuits, and the matter was eventually dropped, but it gave an indication that there was little taste for the idea here.

Still, while there may not be a regulated Internet casino market in the state, there are still plenty of ways for Minnesotans to play blackjack, slots, poker and other favorites online. Many foreign sites offer their real money games in the state, regarding it as a grey market: one where there is no regulatory framework, but also one where players aren’t prohibited from joining sites if they want to do so. That means that many individuals in the state play on Internet casinos daily, with no fear of legal repercussions.

Only Minor Changes Expected in Near Future

While there are a lot of things that could potentially happen to the MN gambling industry over the next few years, most of the current battles appear to be over details, rather than about any large-scale changes. As a result, we expect the market to remain pretty stable in the near future.

On the land-based side of things, there is still some concern over the failure of the e-gaming push and how it could impact the overall charitable gambling market. In late 2014, the state made a new push to try to reinvigorate interest in the games, both to benefit charities and the stadium fund. While the games appear to have more momentum now than a few years earlier, they’re still nowhere near the original lofty projections officials bandied about.

As for online gambling and mobile gambling in particular, there’s still a lot of work to be done before state legislators might even consider regulating the industry locally. Some believed that a need for revenue (perhaps to shore up the shortfall in the stadium fund) might push the state towards Internet poker, if not full casino gaming, but that never took place. So far, even studies on the feasibility of regulation have been rejected in the legislature. While MN won’t be one of the last states to bring gambling online, they appear to be relatively far away from making that happen.

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